Models for the exhibition "1953 - A Year in Politics and Everyday Life", 2003 (Design: Martin Simon)
Preparing the permanent exhibition, November 2011

What does the museum do


The Documentation Centre exists since 1993. During a period of transformation in East Germany after the collapse of the GDR it was a major task to preserve the material culture of it´s dissolving society.


What has not been collected and preserved will not exist as a source for future research and cannot be visited. Objects of the everday use had been thrown away by millions after the fall of the Berlin wall to be replaced by Western consumer goods. The more basic these objects were the more likely this happened. Museums have considered objects of everyday life relevant for their work only since a comparatively short time and often things of the recent past are now missing. With collecting everyday artifacts out of their daily use the Documentation Centre has built a broad and significant “archive of things”. More than two thousand private donors supported this project until now. The collections contain more than 170,000 objects, today.

Asking for expert knowledge

In everyday objects the experiences of their former users are consealed. With the end of individual memory this knowledge will be lost forever and for this reason the Documentation Centre is trying to document it by interviews with the former users of things. Information about purchasing, use and meaning of things are of special relevance since they could neither be found in archives nor could they be “read” from the objects themselves. In many cases they seem not relevant of regarding because of the obvious function of things. In the future this knowledge deriving from practice will be an extraordinary source for historical research and the Documentation Centre aims to intensify object related interviews.

Preserving and documentation

The preservation of material culture is a basic task of museum work as much as the documentation of relevant information relating to the objects. Only if the objects are protected and information is documented material culture in museum collections will become part of public memory. The Documentation Centre is cataloguing objects in three consecutive steps from inventory book to computerized data base. The Documentation Centre comits itself to the claim for open access and as a future project will put its collection data online.

Public debate and cultural education

The media museums use to intervene in public debate are exhibitions. The Documentation Centre presents a permanent exhibition and seeks to developed special exhibitions every year. If ever possible accompanying catalogues are published for background information. Special exhibitions are laid out for a wider public and visitors of different age, origin and interest.  According to its commitment to cultural education the permanent exhibit provides additional basic information for the use of schools and other educational fields.

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